Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

14 November 2012 – Most of us expect Brazil to crown the F1 World Champion for the first time since 2009, but Texas could storm back onto the scene with a title-clinching moment for Sebastian Vettel. If he wins Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fifth or lower, the crown heads to Heppenheim for a third successive year…

Red Bull has already failed to clinch the constructors’ title at the first possible point, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago. Having said that, it was just about the only thing Red Bull have failed to do lately. The chances are now extremely low that they will not wrap up that honour this weekend, which in my opinion should be viewed as a major displeasure for McLaren; this really was their finest chance to take the spoils for the first time since 1998. For one reason or another, they’ve blown it.

Two to go: Vettel VS Alonso

The drivers’ battle is less clear cut, but facts are facts. One fact is that only Vettel or Alonso can now win this championship. That also means that whoever wins becomes a triple Formula 1 World Champion. Another is, if it is to be Alonso, Brazil is the only place where it can happen for him – just as it did back in 2005 and 2006. On the contrary, Vettel would have collected his titles in a trio of very different countries.

Vettel has a ten-point advantage after his equally superlative drive of Abu Dhabi. Many argue it was only because of the Safety Cars. Yes, they certainly helped, but let us not forget that he was again at the back of the field at the first restart. So really the second Safety Car was the big help and the first was effectively null and void. As for Alonso, just how many times will that man leave us astounded this season? He has to be my driver of the year, but the Red Bull RB8 is dominant when it comes to the car.

Don’t be fooled by the ten-point margin. You score that amount for a fifth place finish, so that translates to just two or four points under the previous two scoring systems which were replaced after the 2002 and 2009 campaigns. There’s nothing in it. To remind you, the current system is: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With that in mind, here is how Vettel can claim Germany’s tenth F1 title in Texas:

- By winning the race with Alonso fifth or lower
- By finishing second with Alonso ninth or lower
- By finishing third with Alonso 11th or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to retain even the slightest of chances heading to Brazil, Alonso must score a point if Vettel is to finish third in America - and he must finish eighth if Vettel is to come home second. If Vettel wins the race, which one would imagine is quite possible, then Alonso has to be fourth or better to keep his chances alive – and, even then, things would still be extremely difficult a week later.

For the reasons explained above, it is my personal belief that this title really is now Vettel’s to lose. Furthermore, I have said all season long that the rest of the pack have been on borrowed time while Red Bull made up for the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser which allowed Vettel to dominate last year. McLaren have made too many mistakes and suffered from unreliability. Mercedes steered in the wrong direction with Super DRS and had an even greater lack of reliability. Lotus threatened mid-season but, ultimately, their ‘device’ proved too sensitive to make the most of at all circuits. As for Ferrari…well, the honest truth is that – although Alonso has driven better than ever, and indeed better than anybody for many years – the car was, quite simply, never quick enough. It certainly looked promising over the European summer but, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, his British and German pole positions only came because of adverse weather conditions.

All is not lost for Alonso, though. Anything really can still happen – just look at the final moments of 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2008 to name just four. Rain could affect proceedings (especially in Brazil), Vettel could lose a front wing up against a back-marker or perhaps Red Bull will fumble a pit-stop. These things might not happen too often, but they do happen and for those reasons Alonso must be in position to take advantage. If these things do not occur and the weather remains dry, you should probably expect Vettel pole positions and two clean drives to victory. The Ferrari may only qualify fifth, sixth or seventh and that always leaves a driver in the danger zone at the start…you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out and just look at what happened in Japan. On top of this, Red Bull was testing in Abu Dhabi last week whereas Ferrari elected to have their Young Driver run earlier in the year; you would therefore expect the pace deficit to be even bigger, if the updates work as planned.

So, in short, we can’t predict exactly how Vettel might win his third World Championship but – taking all things into account – the odds are certainly in his favour. At the start of 2012 I predicted that Lewis Hamilton would be the only man who could beat Sebastian Vettel this season. Hands up – I got that wrong. But what was right is the fact that Vettel, Adrian Newey and Red Bull have by far the best handle on the current set of Technical Regulations. It will be difficult for Alonso…

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Circuit of the Americas
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laps 56

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 20

Length 5.516 km / 3.427 mi

Local start time 1pm (GMT -6)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Hard (silver markings) & Medium (white markings)

DRS zone
Back straight, between Turns 11 and 12
- Activation to be approximately 650 metres before Turn 12

FIA driver steward
Emerson Fittipaldi
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Sunday 21 September 2014

  2. Alonso rues timing of Safety Car 18:54

    Alonso rues timing of Safety Car

    Fernando Alonso was left to rue the timing of the Safety Car as he raced to fourth position in the Singapore Grand...

    F1
  3. Bottas links late slump to power steering 17:53

    Bottas links late slump to power steering

    Valtteri Bottas says an issue with his power steering system contributed to his tumble down the order in the Singapore Grand...

    F1
  4. 17:45

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Singapore

    F1
  5. Force India reclaims fifth from McLaren 17:31

    Force India reclaims fifth from McLaren

    Force India boss Vijay Mallya was suitably elated after his team moved ahead of McLaren in the battle for fifth in the...

    F1
  6. Magnussen treated for burns after scoring point 17:05

    Magnussen treated for burns after scoring point

    Kevin Magnussen was treated for burns by doctors after the McLaren driver battled to 10th place at the Singapore Grand...

    F1
  7. Vergne fights back to earn best result of season 17:05

    Vergne fights back to earn best result of season

    Outgoing Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne recorded his best finish in over a year as he battled to sixth in the Singapore...

    F1
  8. Vettel questions timing of Hamilton move 16:35

    Vettel questions timing of Hamilton move

    Sebastian Vettel reckons Lewis Hamilton took more risks than he needed to when passing him during Sunday's Singapore Grand...

    F1
  9. Hamilton hails 'clean' Singapore weekend 16:13

    Hamilton hails 'clean' Singapore weekend

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was pleased after a "clean" Singapore Grand Prix weekend culminated in him taking a vital...

    F1
  10. Rosberg urges Mercedes to improve reliability 15:51

    Rosberg urges Mercedes to improve reliability

    Nico Rosberg has urged Mercedes to improve its reliability after his costly retirement from Sunday night's Singapore Grand...

    F1
  11. 15:27

    In full: Singapore Grand Prix race result

    F1
  12. Hamilton takes title lead with Singapore win 15:10

    Hamilton takes title lead with Singapore win

    Lewis Hamilton moved into the lead of the championship with a commanding victory in Sunday night's Singapore Grand Prix,...

    F1
  13. 12:35

    Follow the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix live!

    F1
  14. Video: Hill, Herbert become mechanics 10:44

    Video: Hill, Herbert become mechanics

    Watch as Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert become Marussia mechanics for a practice session in Singapore.

    F1
  15. 10:42

    Photos: Historic F1 race in Singapore

    F1
  16. Hamilton: Rosberg relations 'back to normal' 10:41

    Hamilton: Rosberg relations 'back to normal'

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says that his relationship with team-mate Nico Rosberg is 'back to normal' following the...

    F1
  17. Grosjean hits out at Renault problems 07:02

    Grosjean hits out at Renault problems

    Romain Grosjean has hit out at continual Renault problems, which he says are having a negative impact on the morale of his...

    F1
  18. 06:32

    Photos: Special helmets for Singapore

    F1
  19. Video of the Day: Formula 1's Safety Car 05:03

    Video of the Day: Formula 1's Safety Car

    There has never been a Singapore Grand Prix without the appearance of Formula 1's Safety Car. Ahead of the night race,...

    F1
  20. Pérez sure of Force India race recovery 01:04

    Pérez sure of Force India race recovery

    Force India driver Sergio Pérez says he is sure that he can recover from a lowly grid spot and notch up a top 10 finish in...

    F1
  21. 00:35

    Starting grid for the Singapore Grand Prix

    F1
  22. Saturday 20 September 2014

  23. Massa encouraged by Williams improvements 18:32

    Massa encouraged by Williams improvements

    Felipe Massa says he is encouraged by the progress which Williams has made since Friday's practice sessions after qualifying...

    F1
  24. 17:25

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Singapore

    F1
  25. Magnussen seeks help from Safety Car 17:24

    Magnussen seeks help from Safety Car

    Kevin Magnussen says he is hoping to see the Safety Car called into action during Sunday evening's Singapore Grand...

    F1
  26. Alonso hopeful of fighting for victory 17:09

    Alonso hopeful of fighting for victory

    Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is hopeful that he will be able to challenge for victory during Sunday's Singapore Grand...

    F1
  27. Vettel reckons pole position was possible 16:42

    Vettel reckons pole position was possible

    Sebastian Vettel feels he could have had a shot at claiming pole position in Singapore with a cleaner final qualifying...

    F1
  28. Rosberg ruing late change of brakes 16:16

    Rosberg ruing late change of brakes

    Nico Rosberg was left to rue a change of brakes after Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton beat him to pole position in...

    F1
  29. Hamilton pleased to recover from early error 15:57

    Hamilton pleased to recover from early error

    Lewis Hamilton says he was pleased with his recovery after an early error threatened to ruin his final qualifying attempt in...

    F1
  30. 15:08

    Singapore GP: Qualifying results in full

    F1
  31. Hamilton pips Rosberg to Singapore pole 15:07

    Hamilton pips Rosberg to Singapore pole

    Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position during a tight qualifying session in Singapore, with...

    F1
  32. 13:52

    Follow qualifying for the Singapore GP!

    F1
  33. 12:16

    Singapore GP: Full Free Practice 3 results

    F1
  34. Alonso back on top in final Singapore practice 12:03

    Alonso back on top in final Singapore practice

    Fernando Alonso returned to the head of the field during final practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, putting his Ferrari...

    F1
  35. 10:55

    Follow final practice for the Singapore GP!

    F1
  36. Full radio ban delayed to ensure 'fairness' 10:31

    Full radio ban delayed to ensure 'fairness'

    The FIA backtracked on its plans to introduce a full radio clampdown in Singapore to ensure "fairness". After announcing...

    F1
  37. Video: Maldonado crashes out of practice 09:56

    Video: Maldonado crashes out of practice

    Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado suffered this heavy crash during Friday evening's second practice session in Singapore. The...

    F1
  38. Maldonado gets new chassis after crash 09:49

    Maldonado gets new chassis after crash

    Pastor Maldonado has been forced to switch to a new chassis for the remainder of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, after...

    F1
  39. 07:06

    Photos: Historic F1 action in Singapore

    F1
  40. Ravetto: Caterham already working on 2015 06:01

    Ravetto: Caterham already working on 2015

    Newly-appointed Caterham Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto insists that there are long-term plans in place at the outfit,...

    F1
  41. Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 8 05:00

    Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 8

    Sauber's Head of Aerodynamics, Willem Toet, concludes his talk on the science of F1 wind tunnel design.

    F1
  42. Friday 19 September 2014

  43. Ferrari reasonably competitive, says Alonso 19:49

    Ferrari reasonably competitive, says Alonso

    Fernando Alonso reckons that Ferrari put in a "reasonably competitive" performance during Friday's free practice sessions...

    F1
more news